We've been a little MIA on the blogging front lately because all of my "blogging" time has been spent finally biting the bullet and building our Southeast Asia albums.

(This may be really boring to most of you. But I worked really hard, so I want to write about it. You're welcome to skip down to the preview at the bottom, or skip this post entirely. My feelings won't be hurt. Promise.) 

I knew I wanted to have some printed and consolidated record of our adventures here, so I've been gathering opinions and ideas for a long time. Thanks to everyone who gave me feedback. It was a pretty big project. I count 26 trips we've taken since we moved to Asia (though several of those were just a couple of nights away, of course) to 12 countries (not counting Singapore or the US). It was a lot of material.

I finally decided to focus only on the outside-of-Singapore-trips and to not include any home trips. The books will cover the more adventurous parts of life the past two years and less our daily life. Perhaps I'll tackle that part later.

I considered grouping the books by country or region. I was loving the idea of a whole library of books lined up on my shelf. But in the end, sticking to chronological order seemed to make the most sense in terms of cost and organization, so I've done two volumes: Year One (July 2009-June 2010) and Year Two (July 2010-June 2011).

On August 15 (based on the time stamp on my first file), I started with the safari trip and built 14 page templates from scratch in Photoshop. Once I got a collection of page designs I liked (this took a few tries; I built and tossed another 8 or so templates) and finalized fonts and styles etc, I dropped in text from blog posts we had originally written for each location. I did very little editing--the text was mostly cut and paste.

Once the general layouts were created, it went pretty quickly. I tried to do a trip a night or so, breaking up some of the more photo-heavy trips (like Siem Reap with 24 layouts, Beijing with 28, and of course the safari with 32). I saved all of the pages in Photoshop's PSD file format, so I could go back and make changes to anything that needed editing. I ended up with 270 book pages and threw away at least 75 completed pages that didn't work for one reason or another. 

I wanted a really clean layout so the pictures would stand out and there wouldn't be a ton of other stuff on the page. It's much more magazine style than scrapbook style, but I like it. My friend Leah sent me the latest issue of the digital magazine Kinfolk in mid-September and it inspired several of my page layouts.

I am printing the books with Blurb, an online printer I've used several times before. They aren't the absolute gold standard as far as colors go, but the books look great. They allow you to print big books (Year Two is 170 pages), which the more photo-focused printers don't support, and they support spine printing. Plus there are always coupons floating around online. (If you click through to Blurb's page to preview the books bigger--which you can--know that the prices listed there are not the actual printing prices. I inflated those so no strangers would be tempted to buy the books. Of course, if they do, I'll make a nice little profit.)

Kyle's Mom will be the first to get to see them in person, but you can peek at the digital versions here.